The startups wanting to revolutionize travel

Let’s find out about two new startups which are casting a new light on the classic “travel guide” idea. The ViaHero app puts you in touch with locals to help you plan your trip, while Sherpa shows you another side to popular destinations… goodbye picture postcards, hello Instagram!


ViaHero, the app which invites locals to plan your vacation

Had enough of tourist guides who always take you to the same crowded spots? Want to experience a country’s traditions from an insider’s perspective, just like a local?

The ViaHero developers had the great idea of involving local residents in planning in visitors’ vacations. Residents in popular locations can now organize a personalized itinerary to suit travelers’ personalities, tastes and wishes.

The app started out by focusing on Cuba over the last year, and travelers really like being matched with residents who know the country better than any tourist guide. ViaHero is of course aiming to extend its list of destinations, but currently covers Japan and Iceland.

Plan your trip to Iceland with ViaHero

Greg Buzulencia and Ben Preston came up with the idea for the application during their extensive travels. The two adventurers spent many hours planning their trips by trying to get in contact with local residents so they could leave the beaten track behind. It was a clear consensus: for them, this was a fantastic way of enjoying more packed and interesting trips. In creating ViaHero, they decided to make it much easier to get in contact with locals, which was not always an obvious thing to do.

So how does it work?

The service puts you in touch with a local, known as your “hero”, who will offer their help in planning your trip and tell you about their country’s unmissable and often hidden gems. Your hero isn’t chosen at random – the tastes and preferences you give will be taken into account.

In Iceland for example, heroes will tell you where to find the best hot pools, or the best little-known viewpoints to enjoy the Aurora Borealis. In every country, heroes will tell you how to avoid the tourist traps, and will share their favorite bars and restaurants with you.

Step 1: Make contact with your hero.

Your trip will cost $15 per day, which only covers recommendations provided by your hero, or logistical information such as how public transport works, where to find Internet access, etc., if you need it. Both services combined cost $25 a day.

Once your trip has been planned, you can access all the details offline. A practical solution to enjoy some secluded spots!

Sherpa, the tourist guide which uses the best Instagram photos

For modern travelers, the Internet is a great source of inspiration. From Pinterest to Google Destinations via big-name travel blogs, it has never been so easy to find ideas or places of interest for your next trips.

The CEO and co-founder of Sherpa, Paul Aaron, believes there is even more untapped potential in the famous social networking site Instagram.

We don’t need to tell you about Instagram – this mobile photo and video-sharing app has made a name for itself as a brand, and is still growing in popularity with no less than 600 million users.


Sherpa’s plan is to use this reputation to offer users a new kind of tourist guide, one which is created by the community. The app gathers the most popular Instagram photos to create a visual tourist guide.

This database is enhanced by other services such as Foursquare, the app which provides expert advice on a town or city’s landmarks, and Wikipedia.

When it was launched on 12 June this year, the app already contained more than half a million geotagged photos.


The app can be downloaded for free from the App Store and will soon be available on Android. The way Sherpa works is simple: Once the app is downloaded, you will be asked to enter your email address, link your Instagram account and add where you live. All you need to do to next is browse through the travel guides by tapping your chosen destination in the search zone or by exploring popular locations. You can also save these places to look at again later.

However, the main idea behind the app is to inspire the user rather than offer a complete guide. For the moment, you won’t be able to book a hotel or look for flights, but Sherpa is planning to continue extending the scope of its offer to gradually become an online travel agency.

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